(Kenny Felt/Exclusive to the Tribune)
Louisburg (6-4) held No. 5-ranked Fort Scott to 51 yards rushing while the Wildcat offense gained 208 yards on the ground. That difference in line play led to Louisburg's 17-0 upset over the Tigers in the Class 4A Bi-District Playoff Game Tuesday night at Frary Field.
Senior quarterback Johnathan Stark had to sit out the game due to concussion-type symptoms following a violent hit he took while playing defense in last Thursday's game against Chanute. But sophomore Mason Knopp played well in his place, completing four of his first six passes.
Fort Scott runners had trouble gaining yards. It didn't matter if the plays were up the middle or around the end, straight-up, options or out of the wishbone. The Tigers rushed for 18 yards on 14 plays in the first quarter and had only 37 yards on 19 carries at the half. On many occasions, the back found himself surrounded by defenders, trying to break two or three tackles.
Louisburg's two touchdowns came, ironically, on passes. The first came right after a holding penalty pushed the Wildcats back to their one 12-yard line. Senior quarterback Nate O'Brien found Will Garza down the right sideline and the junior receiver managed to elude several Fort Scott defenders on his way to the end zone with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers managed to scrap their way downfield in the second quarter, advancing from their own 18 to the Louisburg 17 before the drive stalled. Knopp found Chris Allen for 13 yards on a third-and-4 from his own 24. Then a Wildcat hold moved the ball another 10 yards.
Later in the drive, Marques Floyd found 14 yards -- just one of two Tiger runs of more than 10 yards all night -- to the Louisburg 37. A pass interference penalty moved the ball to the 23.
Four plays after that call, Knopp looked for Allen on a fourth-down back-screen pass, looking right first, then going back left for the throw. But Louisburg linebacker Luke Hupp sniffed out the play and tackled Allen for a 6-yard loss.
The Wildcats moved the other way, with tailback Daniel O'Connor's 36-yard run on the fifth play of the drive moving the ball to the Tiger 16. Three plays later, O'Brien threw over the middle to Hayden Guetterman in the end zone to make it 14-0 with 24 seconds left until halftime.
Louisburg received the second-half kickoff and the Tigers got a needed stop, forcing the Wildcats to punt. But the offense was unable to capitalize as Fort Scott was able to run just four plays from the Louisburg side of the field in the entire second half.
The Wildcats were content to hold the ball for long periods of time, controlling it for nearly 16 minutes of the 24 in the second half. Jason Danciak kicked a 32-yard field goal with 8:03 to go to post the final score.
Knopp tried to rally the troops, starting off the next drive with a 26-yard completion to Straton Hunziker to get the Tigers to the Louisburg 48. But they advanced just six yards more before turning it over on downs.
O'Brien completed 5 of 6 passes for 117 yards for Louisburg while O'Connor gained 107 yards on 16 carries. The Wildcats finished with 325 yards in total offense.
Knopp finished 6 of 14 for 69 yards and an interception in his first varsity start. Victor Hughes was the Tigers' leading rusher with 22 yards on 7 carries. Floyd was held to 19 yards on 14 rushes.
Louisburg will host Coffeyville, another Southeast Kansas League team, in a Class 4A Regional Playoff Game on Saturday. The Golden Tornado (8-2) crushed Frontenac, 57-26, Tuesday night in Coffeyville.
Chanute, the third SEK team in the playoffs, beat Paola 13-7 Tuesday night. The Blue Comets (6-4) will be at home Saturday night against Girard (9-1), which beat former SEK rival Columbus, 34-7.
LOUISBURG... 7 7 0 3 -- 17
FORT SCOTT.. 0 0 0 0 -- 0
|Team stats||Louisburg||Fort Scott|
|Punt returns||1-minus 3||1-5|
L -- Garza 88 pass from O'Brien (Danicak kick), 1:41 [2, 78, :23]
L -- Guetterman 9 pass from O'Brien (Danicak kick), :24 [8, 77, 2:39]
L -- FG Danicak 33, 8:03 [7, 18, 3:57]
RUSHING: Louisburg -- O'Connor 16-107, Dunn 12-56, Hupp 10-19, Meyer 4-18, O'Brien 4-8, Bird 1-4, team 2-minus 4. Fort Scott -- V.Hughes 7-22, Floyd 14-19, Durossette 3-16, Knopp 6-minus 6.
PASSING: Louisburg -- O'Brien 5-6-0-117. Fort Scott -- Knopp 6-14-1-69.
RECEIVING: Louisburg -- Garza 2-102, McLellan 2-10, Guetterman 1-9, O'Connor 1-minus 4. Fort Scott -- Hunziker 2-36, C.Allen 2-7, Pytlowany 1-16, Floyd 1-10.
MISSED FIELD GOALS: None.